on giving thanks; a very brief sermon

 

Give thanks.

This is good. Very good. May we only grow in the practice of it.

But, let us always remember that giving thanks is not an end in itself.

Our giving thanks to God is meant to move us toward giving grace to others.

For while God does not need our thanks (he is not “in need” of anything), he does desire his creation to be good to the rest of creation.

To live in harmony, peace, and blessing.

To love as he loves.

And so today, if you are thankful you have …

* food … then pray for the hungry and seek to feed others;

* clothing … then petition God for those who are without and clothe others;

* a place out of the elements … intercede for those who are homeless and support low-cost housing;

* a legal and ethical means of making a living … pray for the unemployed and the wrongly employed, work hard at your job, and assist others as you can;

* family and friends … talk with God for the lonely and abandoned, caring for them with your time and attention.

* freedom to worship without persecution … plead with God for the persecuted and love your enemies.

Give thanks. This is good. May such grow daily all the more in us.

In terms of expression, and not only emotion. In ways of action, and not merely intention. In means of care, not just concern.

For our God is good.

And so, let us be good to all.

All the time.

LIFE group guide: give thanks, because …

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Nov. 24). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon. This sermon is entitled “Give Thanks, Because …” and is my “Thanksgiving sermon.”

To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues. All Scripture texts reproduced below, unless otherwise noted, are from the CEB.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this particular sermon.

To remind us of the value and blessings of a grateful spirit expressed in thankful ways.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.

• Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. (1 Chron. 16.8 NLT)

• Give thanks to the God of heaven— God’s faithful love lasts forever! (Ps. 136.26 CEB)

• This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God. Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough! (2 Cor. 9.10-15 The Message)

• Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts … And be thankful. (Col. 3.15 NIV)

• … since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship … (Heb. 12.28 NRSV)

Relation

These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.

1. What movie character or scene do you recall as profoundly depicting gratitude?

2. Tell us of something for which, over time, you have come to grow deeply thankful.

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Read 1 Chron. 16.7-13,14-18,19-22,23-27,28-30,31-33,34-36. Then do vs. 36b.

2. What specific reasons can you find in Psalm 136 to be thankful for God?

3. What exactly is the “relief offering” in view in 2 Corinthians 9.10-15?

Reflection

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. Consider what you often thank God for … and then consider what rarely shows up.

2. What tends to move you to grateful, thankful prayer to God?

3. What benefits can others enjoy from overhearing you unashamedly thank God?

4. Someone asks you, “How do I become a more grateful person?” What would you say?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid you in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Train yourself to make your very first thought/prayer each day to be one of thanks.

2. “Count your blessings, name them one-by-one.” Make a list. Add to it daily. For life.

3. Compose your own simple song of thanksgiving. Let  1 Chron. 16 and Ps. 136 aid you.

this went thru my mind

 

Equality & freedom: A Black Intellectual Writes to Thomas Jefferson by Bobby Valentine

On July 4, 1776 explosive words from Thomas Jefferson captured the hearts of men and women, white and black, in the British Colonies in America.  Those words read, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ … The letter of Benjamin Banneker to Thomas Jefferson on August 19, 1791 was laden with potential to renew the promise of the American Revolution. … Perhaps Banneker should be in the Canon of American Saints as much – perhaps more – than Thomas Jefferson.”

Faith & politics: The Real ‘Evangelical Disaster’ by Rachel Held Evans

“The great evangelical disaster is that evangelicalism has become synonymous with Republicanism rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. This happened long before the 2012 presidential election. It happened when we turned the Bible into a conservative position paper and Jesus into a flag pin. “

Generosity: Family Christian Stores Buys Itself, Pledges to Give 100% of Profits to Widows and Orphans

“Under the new ownership, Family Christian’s pledge is to contribute 100% of its profits to Christian causes and, specifically, ministries serving widows and orphans both in the USA and abroad.”

Thanksgiving: * An American Thanksgiving from a Global Perspective by Dan Bouchelle; * Tips for Teaching Your Children Thanksgiving! by Mark Woodward

* “I have traveled to all six populated continents and preached for churches in each place. I spend a lot of time listening to church leaders and disciple-makers describe the realities they face in their countries with all the joys and struggles that entails. I also have gotten to witness first hand the living conditions, social realities, political climates, and spiritual environments of many different parts of the globe. With that as the backdrop to my current life, I enter into this Thanksgiving season differently than I once did.”

* “If you want your children to be thankful—grateful—adults, you have a great opportunity to work on them during Thanksgiving.  This holiday can be so much more than Indians and pilgrims or eating and football!  We Christians have a great opportunity to re-capture the holiday from the secularists and materialists and instill in our children a grateful spirit rather than an entitled one!”

word for the weak: week forty-seven

 

The theme connecting this week’s Scripture reading in MoSt Church‘s Uncommon Truth for Common People project is thankfulness. Following is this week’s reading schedule:

• Mon., Nov. 19 – Psalm 147.1-11; Revelation 7.9-8.1
• Tues., Nov. 20 – Psalm 136
• Wed., Nov. 21 – 1 Corinthians 15.50-58; Ephesians 2.1-10
• Thur., Nov. 22 – Psalm 42; Philippians 4.4-9
• Fri., Nov. 23 – Psalm 100.1-5; 118.1-29

This week’s memory verse is Psalm 136.1: “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good.”

word for the weak: week thirty-eight

 

This week’s theme in MoSt’s Church‘s 2012 church-wide Bible reading project – the Uncommon Truth for Common People project – is gratitude. With rare exception, each week’s theme and Scriptures are discussed in MoSt Church’s Wednesday night auditorium class at 7:00 p.m.

• Mon., Sept. 17 – Psalm 92,146

• Tues., Sept. 18 – Luke 7.26-50

• Wed., Sept. 19 – Deuteronomy 8.1-20

• Thur., Sept. 20 – Psalm 40; Lamentations 3.22-26

• Fri., Sept. 21 – Philippians 4.10-13; 1 Timothy 6.3-10; Hebrews 13.5-6

This week’s memory verse is Luke 7.47: “… her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.”

7 things you can do to bless those whose life is a beach

 

Thank God. Such a time in life is a gift and should be treated as such. It could be a time of rest from difficult times past. It could be a time for preparation for more trying times ahead. In either case, thank God for your friend’s blessing. They need it, as you do, too.

Rejoice with them. Inquire as to the good things you see God bringing into their life. Take the time to genuinely, deeply, and repeatedly listen to their stories of the times of refreshing. In doing so, you will not only heighten their joy, but will open the door to greater light into your own life.

Spread the joy around. This world isn’t short on dark and difficult news on a daily basis. Share the good things they share with you that are shareable with others. Deliberately set out to fill the world with some of the good news you know. You just don’t know whose life you might brighten as a result and how powerful that light might be to them.

Don’t succumb to the green monster. No one ever plans to become jealous or green with envy, but turning green starts with nurturing little, seemingly harmless questions. “Why can’t things be for me the way it is for them?” Show such thoughts no mercy. Pull them up by the roots, roots that could spread to others and work real harm.

Grow in gratitude. Sometimes it takes seeing someone else being blessed to awaken us to our own blessings. Let this time of overhearing others count their blessings prompt you to do the same. You will be made a better person in so doing and will, as a result, bless all you know.

Call attention to the future. Your friend will certainly recall how much more pleasant these times are now than some of those past, but you can bless them a bit now by reminding them of what is to be. Blessings we enjoy now are tiny glimpses into the infinitely greater jubilation and glory of being in God’s presence forever, nothing hindering. Such a reminder will likely stir up all the more gratitude and depth of appreciation for the good times now as well as the astounding times to come.

Continue to pray for them. Our natural tendency is to pray in, and perhaps even only in, the tough times. We storm heaven’s gates and petition God to bless. While God certainly encourages us to make request of him, how much more fitting it is that we’re even more passionate about rushing to his throne to praise him for who he is and his goodness at all times! By praying in times of plenty, not merely in times of need, you’ll grow in your awareness and appreciation of God, coming to love him and adore him all the more. Such can’t help but be contagious.

this went thru my mind

 

Church: 17 Signs Your Church Might Be Dying by Trey Morgan

“Just a few days ago I visited with a man that was very concerned about the church where he was attending. … He and I got to talking about some of the signs they were seeing that pointed to their church dying out. We made quite a list, and of course a few were tongue-in-cheek. I thought I might share a few with you today.”

Criticism: Handling the Unknown Critic by Patrick Mead

“Elders are not doing their job when they just listen or when they just disregard. They weren’t called to take it – they were called to lead, and that means you might need to have a stern, firm talk with someone who was convinced they were the only one right… and that they were right because their fathers and forefathers were right. Do not allow those who claim to defend the faith cause it to shipwreck. And, while you’re thinking of it, write your minister and elders a love letter. Pray for them daily and tell them you are doing so. Lift up their hands so that they do not become weary and the battle swing against us.”

Doubt: Real Christians Don’t Have Doubts … Do They? by Tim Keller

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.”

Drugs: My Life With Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Addiction by Gary Stromberg

“My office, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, was set up like a huge living room with couches, overstuffed pillows on the floor, rock star posters lining the walls and a coffee table, the centerpiece of which was a large crystal bowl, filled at all times with a generous supply of cocaine. The house rules were ‘help yourself if you’re here on business — but no take-outs!’ We were regularly visited by our clients, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Steppenwolf. As you could imagine, my office was a very popular place.”

Gambling: A Christian Understanding of Gambling by Albert Mohler

“The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America’s moral crisis. … According to some estimates, as much as one-third of the nation’s money supply now moves through the gambling industry each year … The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s Word.”

Google: How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

“On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products.”

Humor: HTTP 404 Error: Wall Not Found

Leadership: 4 Ways to Become a Leader Want to Follow by Michael Hyatt

“… what separates the leaders we want to follow from the leaders we have to follow?”

Marriage: Keep Your Marriage Out of the Ditch by Jim Martin

“As I write this particular post, I am thinking about couples in their 20s. Perhaps you’ve been married for a few years. You may even have a small child or two (but not necessarily).”

Parenting: Why Take Your Children to Church? by Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

“Nothing matters as much as the souls of our children. If we can help them know God, have faith and live a selfless life to help them to heaven is there truly anything that should hold us back from that goal?”

Photography: The Praying Otter

“This ‘once in a lifetime’ photograph taken by photographer Marac Andrev Kolodzinski, waited patently in freezing cold weather at the Whipsnade Zoo in England.”

Saturday night services: Should We Start a Saturday Night Service? by Brian Jones

“I surveyed pastors for one full year about Sat. night services and decided to launch one … We killed it … four months later.”

Shepherding: 2 Things to Avoid in Shepherding by Bev Hislop

“Active listening is not a physiological ability, it is a learned skill.”

Sleep deprivation: What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Spirit by Lynn Casteel Harper

“I am talking to the segment of society with a measure of privilege (which includes me) that has a choice — whether we admit it — between adequate and inadequate sleep.”

Solomon’s temple: What Did Solomon’s Temple Look Like? Answers from Ain Dara

“The exact design of the Solomonic Temple as described in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3 has been illuminated by an important excavation at Ain Dara in northwestern Syria.”

Syria: Syrian Christians Ask for Prayer

“Syrian Christians say their greatest need right now is prayer, according to Open Doors, an international ministry supporting persecuted Christians and religious freedom around the world.”

Thankfulness: I Begin Every Day Telling God About Him by Terry Rush

“Each day begins the same. As soon as I awaken, I begin telling Him thank you. There is so much for which I am naturally thankful. We are instructed to tell Him so. We are to live so.”

Thinking: Don’t Attempt Serious Thinking On the Run: How to Think Seriously by Dave Jacobs

“Certain things are necessary for serious thinking to occur, they are …”

Worship, leading: Multiple Intelligences in Worship by Anne Perry

“Many personalities and levels of spiritual experience comprise a worshiping audience. What inspires some may be dullsville for others. The fact is that multiple intelligences make up each congregation.”